Adrian Wojnarowski touched on both the Celtics and some of the team’s potential targets on The Vertical Podcast this week, leading off his Celtics discussion with Bobby Marks by stating what he admitted is the obvious.
“Boston’s sort of back where they always are,” Wojnarowski said. “Danny Ainge wants to do a deal.”
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But what kind of deal? Wojnarowski said that Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel is seeing his stock drop across the league. The more teams see of him, Wojnarowski said, the less teams like him.
“The research teams have done on him is not good,” Wojnarowski said. “They don’t get good reports back, their intel on how he’s carried himself there, of his habits. It’s not a great return, so there are teams willing to do a deal for him and bring him in, but they don’t want to give up much, so at some point there Philly’s gotta make a decision, ‘What’s the best we can get for him?’ I think at some point he probably moves, too.”
Wojnarowski said Boston’s next big splash might not come until free agency, with small forward Gordon Hayward a prime target given his connection to Brad Stevens from their Butler days.
“Danny’s wanted to strike and, like everybody else, get that big star, get that big player," Wojnarowski said. "[Al] Horford was a big play and a great get in free agency. They can still keep their eye on Gordon Hayward from Utah who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer who played for Brad Stevens at Butler. It think there’s still strong hope in Utah that he’ll want to stay there.”
Wojnarowski added that Hayward liked Utah and would have ample reason to stay, so the Celtics should keep a close eye on the player when deciding whether they’ll give up major assets for someone else who might fill a similar role at the trade deadline.
“But Boston’s got to keep their eye on [Hayward’s situation] and sort of monitor it and see [if] can they make a run at him,” Wojnarowski said. “Is he definitely going to re-sign there or might he take a look around in free agency this summer? I think Boston’s got to weigh all that with what kind of a deal they maybe try to get themselves involved with between now and the trade deadline.”
Just as interesting as the discussion about whom Ainge might target was a point made by Wojnarowski about how Ainge deals with the rest of the league. Wojnarowski seemed to have the sense that teams feel the Celtics overvalue their own players, including Marcus Smart.
“Boston’s interesting in that [they have] some good young players, they have draft picks they can put in deals and they have some veterans that hold some interest in places,” Wojnarowski said. “I do wonder sometimes if Boston might overvalue some of the players they have compared to what the rest of the league sees in them. I think Marcus Smart might be starting to fall into that category. His name’s been in some talks previously, and they’ve been pretty careful about who they’d give him up for.”